The Toronto Blue Jays made an interesting choice with their first pick, 9th overall, in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft.
The Blue Jays selected 21-year-old right handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman, who had Tommy John surgery in May after suffering an elbow injury in late April. Recovery from the surgery usually takes a full year, and Hoffman is expected ti miss the next 15 months.
By selecting Hoffman, the Jays and the young pitcher will lose a year of development, as Hoffman will be unable to participate in any throwing activities while he recovers. The Jays have now selected a pitcher with their top pick 5 out of the past 6 drafts.
Hoffman has top caliber stuff, with a mid-90s fastball that can touch 98, a plus curveball and the ability to develop a plus changeup. His 6-foot-4 frame gives him an advantage when throwing a curveball because the ball has more room to travel downward. If Hoffman can develop a changeup to compliment his fastball, he will have the ability to change speeds. This ability is essential in today’s MLB if a pitcher wants to be successful.
Doctors believe that Hoffman’s Tommy John surgery was a success, and the rate at which young pitchers recover from and are successful afterwards is also high, so this is likely the main reason that Hoffman was drafted by the Jays. Even after Hoffman’s injury, the Jays remained in contact with Hoffman. The fact that the Jays did not falter in their interest should give them a great shot at signing him. Hoffman was ranked at 13 going into the draft, and the the Jays may be able to sign him for less than the suggested slot value of $3,080,800 because of the surgery.
With the 11th pick, a compensatory pick the Jays where given when they failed to sign top pick Paul Bickord in 2013, the Jays selected 21-year-old catcher Max Pentecost.
The young catcher was thought of as the best player available at his position going into the draft. He has had surgery on his right arm to repair a stress fracture, but it has now been three years since the surgery occurred, leaving the Jays to believe that any problems are behind him.
Pentecost is believed to have the defensive ability required to be a Major League catcher, as he has a strong arm and excellent athleticism. Jays fans are hoping he will pan out better than J.P. Arencibia, who was also supposed to be an above average defender, but ended up never developing into the above average player he was expected to be.
Pentecost is the second player the Blue Jays have drafted form Kennesaw State. They also drafted reliever Chad Jenkins 20th overall in 2009. Jenkins is currently with the Jays bullpen and has been been back and forth between AAA Buffalo and Toronto four times already this season.
Pentecost is projected to be a hitter who hits for average at the Major League level. He does have some power but is seen more as gap-gap hitter rather than a home run hitter. He also has above-average speed for a catcher, something the Jays have not had in recent years. The suggested signing value for the 11th slot is $2,888,300 and the Jays will likely have to pay that much in order to sign the talented young catcher.
Overall, I believe that the Jays first two picks of the 2014 draft were used wisely on players who can hopefully develop over the next two to three years into Major League players. With young pitchers Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Deck McGuire and Sean Nolin already in the system (Stroman is currently with the Jays), the Blue Jays have a chance to have a rotation of home grown talent in the next 2-5 years.